settings icon
share icon

How is hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17)?

hearing by the Word of God

Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (NKJV). The English Standard Version puts it this way: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” In the context of Romans, the phrase word of God is synonymous with word of Christ. This “word” refers to the gospel, which is known as “the Good News about Christ,” as mentioned in The New Living Translation of Romans 10:17.

Romans 10 continues the discussion from the previous chapter, where Paul addresses the salvation of the Jews, God’s chosen people. He acknowledges the zeal of many Jews (Romans 10:2) but points out that their zeal is misdirected as they reject the salvation offered through Christ. Instead, they seek righteousness through the law (verse 3). Paul then contrasts obedience to the law with faith, highlighting the simplicity of the latter. The emphasis is that Christ and His message are readily available to everyone, requiring confession and belief (verses 6–13). However, this message must first be heard, and those who preach it have “beautiful feet” (verse 15; cf. Isaiah 52:7). Paul then summarizes the point introduced at the beginning of the chapter by saying, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV).

Hearing through the Word of God is important because faith cannot come unless there is a message to be believed—and that message is contained in the Word of God. Hearing by the Word of God leads to saving faith when we place our trust in the good news. Christ, the Son of God, came to redeem sinners and reconcile us with the Father. When we place our faith in Christ, God declares us as righteous (Romans 3:22). Paul enforces both the concept of salvation by grace through faith and the significance of spreading the message that people need to hear.

At this point, skeptics and curious believers may wonder about the fate of those who have never heard the gospel. First, we must acknowledge that no one is entirely ignorant of God because His general revelation is evident to all (Romans 1:19–20). Even people in unfamiliar tribes have a sense of the divine. Additionally, God promises a fair judgment, giving everyone what they deserve (see Romans 2:5–10; Revelation 20:11–15). Unfortunately, humanity often rejects this general revelation, choosing to rebel against God or attempting to achieve righteousness through our own efforts.

It would be fair for God to judge us based on our rebellion against His general revelation and the laws we have broken. We cannot accuse God of being unfair when He judges those who have not heard the gospel. In reading the story of Cornelius in Acts 10, we can reasonably conclude that God has ways of reaching anyone. As Christians, our role is to offer what humans do not deserve: the gift of grace. We should fulfill our part, making our feet “beautiful” by spreading the gospel. There is no nuance or complexity beyond God’s wisdom.

Believers also need to hear the Word of God daily to strengthen their faith. While the gospel, in its narrow sense, pertains to salvation, in a broader sense, it encompasses the entire Scripture. The metanarrative goes from creation to the fall all the way to redemption and restoration. Consequently, the principle of Romans 10:17 can be applied by Christians who consistently engage with Scriptures. As we are reminded of God and His actions and promises, our confidence grows.

Return to:

Questions about Romans

How is hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17)?
Subscribe to the

Question of the Week

Get our Question of the Week delivered right to your inbox!

Follow Us: Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube icon Pinterest icon Instagram icon
© Copyright 2002-2023 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy
This page last updated: August 21, 2023